What is a beautiful travel ?

Basile Samel
Nov 20, 2018 · 3 min read

This post is part of my 200 words per day challenge that I am sharing publicly on Twitter in order to improve my writing and develop a writing routine. Feel free to join and comment.

With the rise of Renaissance humanism, travel is rehabilitated as an educational tool: the giant Pantagruel of Rabelais — who personifies a superman— following an initiatory journey. Joining in a travel is a mean to discover, to know and to understand, in order to redistribute this new knowledge by relating one’s own experience.

It is an apprenticeship that provides independence (cf Walden, Henry-David Thoreau), self mastery and control over fear. Thus, wandering is a form of purification, a dispossession leading to transcendence. This is what religions illustrate: Buddha, Caïn, Jesus, Moïse etc. realizing an asceticism through travel and attaining enlightenment (knowledge of truth). But traveling is not just a purification, it is a rebirth to integrate more successfully into daily life, as Odysseus shows us.

To Don Quijote, this enlightenment is translated into an ideal. He is in a quest for an ideal in the form of his Dulcinea.

To Proust, travel is a mean to confirm a truth: to give perspective to books through your own existence. A relearning to ensure a truth that might appear dogmatic at first.

A beautiful travel is liberating.

During Ancient Greece, foreigners who do not travel to trade goods are called nomads, or barbarians if they do not speak greek. Such nomad is perceived as a monster or a god, as Aristotle says: “a man who has no need to live in a community, because it is self-sufficient, has no part in the city”. The historical nomad is thus seen as a solitary and erudite hero, not as a moving population. However, men are political animals, they only exist in tribes, because “existing” is “to come out of your own self” (ek-sistence). Consequently, is it possible to be both a human and a traveler ?

From my own experience, a beautiful travel, performed alone, is equivalent to never be alone. Travel is made of multiple encounters if we leave our cameras and our phones to favor human contact.

This enlightened wandering is indeed not offered by the tourism industry. It is the kind of travel that is not profitable, because it requires time and hazard. It implies to “enter the simple life of simple people” (Jean Chesneaux). To adapt your own daily life to the local customs. To face what is foreign to be less foreign to yourself. Travel does not make you, it undoes you. A life of travel is a community life where exchange creates social aggregation.

A beautiful travel asks for its actors to “break the chains that place and fix people in a given identity in order to assign them to a belonging” (Deleuze/Guattari): a movement toward the others that makes us better.

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